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Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - July 2, 2008

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

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News & Resources
* New Edition of Farmers' Guide to Disaster Assistance Available
* Donations Accepted to Aid in Flood Recovery
* Organic Trade Association Files Milk Labeling Lawsuit
* Michigan Program Suports Food Banks
* Sustainability Summit Generates Dairy Industry Action Plan
* USDA Awards Conservation Innovation Grants

Funding Opportunities
* Small Business Innovation Research Program
* Healthy Sprouts Awards
* Minnesota Ag Literacy Grant Program

Coming Events
* Slow Food Nation
* Farm and Food Leaders Training Conference
* Nebraska Grazing Conference

News & Resources

New Edition of Farmers' Guide to Disaster Assistance Available
Farmers' Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG) announces that a sixth edition of its book, Farmers' Guide to Disaster Assistance, is now available. The familiar resource has been thoroughly revised and updated for farmers who are struggling in the face of natural disaster, and for farmers who want to learn more about the disaster assistance programs included in the 2008 Farm Bill. The book can be downloaded by chapter at no charge from FLAG's website. A bound copy of the book is available without cost to financially distressed Minnesota farmers by calling 1-877-860-4349. For other persons, the charge is $40 per book.

Donations Accepted to Aid in Flood Recovery
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service reports that recent flooding has swamped 3-5 million acres in the Upper Midwest and has caused over $20 billion in damage. The North Country Cooperative Development Fund (NCDF) in partnership with the Wedge Co-op in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is taking donations for farmers affected by the floods. In addition, Farm Aid's Family Farm Disaster Fund is also accepting donations for flood and severe weather relief.
Related ATTRA Publication:   Disaster Assistance for Agricultural Producers

Organic Trade Association Files Milk Labeling Lawsuit
On June 30 the Organic Trade Association filed a complaint against Ohio’s Director of Agriculture, Robert J. Boggs. According to OTA, this action was brought to protect the rights of consumers to receive truthful information about organic production practices on the labels of their milk and other dairy products in Ohio, and to protect the rights of organic dairy farmers and processors to communicate truthfully with consumers regarding federally regulated organic production practices. The lawsuit is in response to new Ohio milk labeling regulations instituted in April by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Michigan Program Suports Food Banks
Thanks to the Michigan Agricultural Surplus System (MASS), an innovative partnership among Michigan's food banks, the farm community and food processors, more than 5.4 million pounds of fresh produce was collected October 2006 through September 2007, and distributed to hungry individuals through the Food Bank Council of Michigan's statewide network of food banks. MASS works to procure unmarketable, yet nutritious, agricultural surplus for Michigan food banks. These Michigan-grown products are then safely and efficiently made available to local pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. Michigan Farmer reports MASS seeks to reduce food waste by encouraging redistribution of surplus food to the hungry, and offers a convenient system for the state's food industry to donate products. MASS also reimburses growers, packers, and processors for costs incurred in preparing donations.

Sustainability Summit Generates Dairy Industry Action Plan
Dairy leaders have announced an industry-wide commitment and action plan to reduce fluid milk’s carbon footprint while increasing business value, from farm to consumer. The action plan is an outcome of the industry’s first Sustainability Summit for U.S. Dairy, an unprecedented gathering of 250 leaders representing producers, processors, non-governmental organizations, university researchers and government agencies held in Rogers, Arkansas, June 16 to June 19. The plan focuses on operational efficiencies and innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring financial viability and industry growth.

USDA Awards Conservation Innovation Grants
USDA has announced $14 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to fund 45 projects in 40 states to develop and refine cutting-edge technologies and approaches that will help farmers conserve and sustain natural resources on their operations. CIG targets innovative, on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Approved CIG projects address traditional natural resource issues such as water quantity, water quality improvement, livestock nutrient management, grazing lands and forest health, and soil resource management. The projects also address emerging natural resource issues, including agricultural air emissions, energy conservation and market-based approaches to conservation. A complete list of funded projects, with project summaries, is available online.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Small Business Innovation Research Program
The purpose of the SBIR program is to provide an opportunity for US-owned, for-profit small business firms to submit innovative, applied, research and development projects that address important problems facing American agriculture and have the potential to lead to significant public benefit if the research is successful. Research proposals are accepted in any of the following topic areas: 1) Forests and Related Resources; 2) Plant Production and Protection - Biology; 3) Animal Production and Protection; 4) Air, Water, and Soils; 5) Food Science and Nutrition; 6) Rural Development; 7) Aquaculture; 8) Biofuels and Biobased Products; 9) Marketing and Trade; 10) Animal Manure Management; 11) Small and Mid-Size Farms; and 12) Plant Production and Protection - Engineering. The SBIR program exists in three phases. The purpose of Phase I is to prove the scientific or technical feasibility of the proposed research and development effort, and CSREES is currently accepting Phase I applications.
Proposals are due September 4, 2008.

Healthy Sprouts Awards
The National Gardening Association administers the Healthy Sprouts Awards, sponsored by Gardener's Supply Company. These awards support school and youth garden programs that teach about nutrition and the issue of hunger in the United States. To be eligible for the 2008 Healthy Sprouts Awards, your school or organization must plan to garden in 2009 with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18. The selection of winners is based on the demonstrated relationship between the garden program and nutrition and hunger issues in the United States. Winning programs receive seeds, curriculum, and gift certificates for purchase of gardening materials.
Proposals are due October 15, 2008.

Minnesota Ag Literacy Grant Program
The Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Ag Literacy Grant Program offers cash awards to help educators more effectively integrate agriculture and the food system into their curriculum. MAITC will accept grant applications only in the following three categories: Innovation in Ag Literacy (up to $400 per grant, with special emphasis on multi-grade or entire school collaboration); Project Food, Land and People Implementation (up to $250 per grant and you must have attended a six hour FLP training); and Special Project Mini-Grants (a maximum of $200 per grant).
Proposals are due October 1, 2008.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Slow Food Nation
August 29 - September 1, 2008
San Francisco, California

Slow Food Nation, the largest celebration of American food in history, will bring together tens of thousands to experience an extraordinary range of activities highlighting the connection between plate and planet. The majority of Slow Food Nation’s events will be free and open to the public. Participants will savor food from across the U.S. at Taste, a 50,000 square foot pavilion; meet farmers and producers at a marketplace surrounding a 10,000 square foot newly-planted urban garden in the heart of the City; learn from visionary speakers; and engage in political discourse to shape a more sustainable food system. Slow Food Nation will also feature a music festival, workshops, films, dinners, hikes and journeys.

Farm and Food Leaders Training Conference
August 18-19, 2008
Austin, Texas

This second annual conference offers the opportunity to be part of an exciting gathering of non-profit leaders, farmers and ranchers, farmers market organizers, and local foods activists. The first day will feature top speakers on issues critical to independent agriculture. The second day will be the training ground for what each and every person can do about these issues!

Nebraska Grazing Conference
August 12-13, 2008
Kearney, Nebraska

This conference includes sessions on forage management, beef marketing, organic production, land monitoring, using co-products, and more.

> More Events

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